Skip to main content

Full text of "Michael Hart Ranking Of The 100 Great Muhammad Number 1"

See other formats

Michael Hart Muhammad 

Michael Hart, in the 100: A 
Ranking of the Most Influential 
Persons in History, 1978. 


From the 100, a Ranking of the 
Most Influential Persons in 
History, by Michael H. Hart 

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most 
influential persons may surprise some readers and may be 
questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who 
was supremely successful on both the religious and secular 

Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one 
of the world's great religions, and became an immensely 
effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his 
death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive. 

The majority of the persons in this book had the advantage of 
being born and raised in centers of civilization, highly 
cultured or politically pivotal nations. Muhammad, however, 
was born in the year 570, in the city of Mecca, in southern 
Arabia, at that time a backward area of the world, far from the 
centers of trade, art, and learning. Orphaned at age six, he was 
reared in modest surroundings. Islamic radition tells us that he 
was illiterate. His economic position improved when, at age 
twenty-five, he married a wealthy widow. Nevertheless, as he 
approached forty, there was little outward indication that he 
was a remarkable person. 

Most Arabs at that time were pagans, who believed in many 
gods. There were, however, in Mecca, a small number of 
Jews and Christians; it was from them no doubt that 
Muhammad first learned of a single, omnipotent God who 
ruled the entire universe. When he was forty years old, 
Muhammad became convinced that this one true God (Allah) 
was speaking to him, and had chosen him to spread the true 


For three years, Muhammad preached only to close friends 
and associates. Then, about 613, he began preaching in 
public. As he slowly gained converts, the Meccan authorities 
came to consider him a dangerous nuisance. In 622, fearing 
for his safety, Muhammad fled to Medina (a city some 200 
miles north of Mecca), where he had been offered a position 
of considerable political power. 

This flight, called the Hegira, was the turning point of the 
Prophet's life. In Mecca, he had had few followers. In 
Medina, he had many more, and he soon acquired an 
influence that made him a virtual dictator. During the next 
few years, while Muhammad's following grew rapidly, a 
series of battles were fought between Medina and Mecca. 
This was ended in 630 with Muhammad's triumphant return 
to Mecca as conqueror. The remaining two and one-half years 
of his life witnessed the rapid conversion of the Arab tribes to 
the new religion. When Muhammad died, in 632, he was the 
effective ruler of all of southern Arabia. 

The Bedouin tribesmen of Arabia had a reputation as fierce 
warriors. But their number was small; and plagued by 
disunity and internecine warfare, they had been no match for 
the larger armies of the kingdoms in the settled agricultural 
areas to the north. However, unified by Muhammad for the 
first time in history, and inspired by their fervent belief in the 
one true God, these small Arab armies now embarked upon 
one of the most astonishing series of conquests in human 
history. To the northeast of Arabia lay the large Neo-Persian 
Empire of the Sassanids; to the northwest lay the Byzantine, 
or Eastern Roman Empire, centered in onstantinople. 
Numerically, the Arabs were no match for their opponents. 
On the field of battle, though, the inspired Arabs rapidly 
conquered all of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. By 642, 
Egypt had been wrested from the Byzantine Empire, while the 


Persian armies had been crushed at the key battles of Qadisiya 
in 637, and Nehavend in 642. 

But even these enormous conquests-which were made under 
the leadership of Muhammad's close friends and immediate 
successors, Abu Bakr and 'Umar ibn al-Khattab -did not mark 
the end of the Arab advance. By 711, the Arab armies had 
swept completely across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean 
There they turned north and, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, 
overwhelmed the Visigothic kingdom in Spain. 

For a while, it must have seemed that the Moslems would 
overwhelm all of Christian Europe. However, in 732, at the 
famous Battle of Tours, a Moslem army, which had advanced 
into the center of France, was at last defeated by the Franks. 
Nevertheless, in a scant century of fighting, these Bedouin 
tribesmen, inspired by the word of the Prophet, had carved 
out an empire stretching from the borders of India to the 
Atlantic Ocean-the largest empire that the world had yet seen. 
And everywhere that the armies conquered, large-scale 
conversion to the new faith eventually followed. 

Now, not all of these conquests proved permanent. The 
Persians, though they have remained faithful to the religion of 
the Prophet, have since regained their independence from the 
Arabs. And in Spain, more than seven centuries of warfare 
finally resulted in the Christians reconquering the entire 
peninsula. However, Mesopotamia and Egypt, the two cradles 
of ancient civilization, have remained Arab, as has the entire 
coast of North Africa. The new religion, of course, continued 
to spread, in the intervening centuries, far beyond the borders 
of the original Moslem conquests. Currently it has tens of 
millions of adherents in Africa and Central Asia and even 
more in Pakistan and northern India, and in Indonesia. In 
Indonesia, the new faith has been a unifying factor. In the 


Indian subcontinent, however, the conflict between Moslems 
and Hindus is still a major obstacle to unity. 

How, then, is one to assess the overall impact of Muhammad 
on human history? Like all religions, Islam exerts an 
enormous influence upon the lives of its followers. It is for 
this reason that the founders of the world's great religions all 
figure prominently in this book . Since there are roughly twice 
as many Christians as Moslems in the world, it may initially 
seem strange that Muhammad has been ranked higher than 
Jesus. There are two principal reasons for that decision. First, 
Muhammad played a far more important role in the 
development of Islam than Jesus did in the development of 
Christianity. Although Jesus was responsible for the main 
ethical and moral precepts of Christianity (insofar as these 
differed from Judaism), St. Paul was the main developer of 
Christian theology, its principal proselytizer, and the author of 
a large portion of the New Testament. 

Muhammad, however, was responsible for both the theology 
of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. In addition, 
he played the key role in proselytizing the new faith, and in 
establishing the religious practices of Islam. Moreover, he is 
the author of the Moslem holy scriptures, the Koran, a 
collection of certain of Muhammad's insights that he believed 
had been directly revealed to him by Allah. Most of these 
utterances were copied more or less faithfully during 
Muhammad's lifetime and were collected together in 
authoritative form not long after his death. The Koran 
therefore, closely represents Muhammad's ideas and teachings 
and to a considerable extent his exact words. No such detailed 
compilation of the teachings of Christ has survived. Since the 
Koran is at least as important to Moslems as the Bible is to 
Christians, the influence of Muhammad through the medium 
of the Koran has been enormous. It is probable that the 
relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger 


than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on 
Christianity. On the purely religious level, then, it seems 
likely that Muhammad has been as influential in human 
history as Jesus. 

Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well 
as a religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind the 
Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential 
political leader of all time. 

Of many important historical events, one might say that they 
were inevitable and would have occurred even without the 
particular political leader who guided them. For example, the 
South American colonies would probably have won their 
independence from Spain even if Simon Bolivar had never 
lived. But this cannot be said of the Arab conquests. Nothing 
similar had occurred before Muhammad, and there is no 
reason to believe that the conquests would have been 
achieved without him. The only comparable conquests in 
human history are those of the Mongols in the thirteenth 
century, which were primarily due to the influence of Genghis 
Khan. These conquests, however, though more extensive than 
those of the Arabs, did not prove permanent, and today the 
only areas occupied by the Mongols are those that they held 
prior to the time of Genghis Khan. 

It is far different with the conquests of the Arabs. From Iraq 
to Morocco, there extends a whole chain of Arab nations 
united not merely by their faith in Islam, but also by their 
Arabic language, history, and culture. The centrality of the 
Koran in the Moslem religion and the fact that it is written in 
Arabic have probably prevented the Arab language from 
breaking up into mutually unintelligible dialects, which might 
otherwise have occurred in the intervening thirteen centuries. 
Differences and divisions between these Arab states exist, of 
course, and they are considerable, but the partial disunity 


should not blind us to the important elements of unity that 
have continued to exist. For instance, neither Iran nor 
Indonesia, both oil-producing states and both Islamic in 
religion joined in the oil embargo of the winter of 1973-74. It 
is no coincidence that all of the Arab states, and only the Arab 
states, participated in the embargo. 

We see, then, that the Arab conquests of the seventh century 
have continued to play an important role in human history, 
down to the present day. It is this unparalleled combination of 
secular and religious influence which I feel entitles 
Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure 
in human history. 

The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in 
History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart , reprinted in 1992 
with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, 
according to Hart, most influenced human history . 111 

The first person on Hart's list is the Prophet of Islam 
Muhammad , 1 ^ 1 a selection that generated some controversy. 111 
Hart asserted that Muhammad was "supremely successful" in 
both the religious and secular realms. He also believed that 
Muhammad's role in the development of Islam was far more 
influential than Jesus' collaboration in the development of 
Christianity . He attributes the development of Christianity to 
St. Paul , who played a pivotal role in its dissemination. 

The 1992 revisions included the demotion of figures 
associated with Communism , such as Vladimir Lenin and 
Mao Zedong , and the introduction of Mikhail Gorbachev . 
Hart took sides in the Shakespearean authorship issue and 
substituted Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford for William 
Shakespeare . Hart also substituted Niels Bohr and Henri 


Becquerel with Ernest Rutherford , thus correcting an error in 
the first edition. Henry Ford was also promoted from the 
"Honorary Mentions" list, replacing Pablo Picasso . Finally, 
some of the rankings were re-ordered, although no one listed 
in the top ten changed position. 

Hart wrote another book in 1999, entitled A View from the 
Year 3000 voiced in the perspective of a person from that 
future year and ranking the most influential people in history. 
Roughly half of those entries are fictional people from 2000- 
3000, but the remainder are actual people. These were taken 
mostly from the 1992 edition, with some re-ranking of order. 

Hart's work shows both similarities and differences in thrust 
from Skiena and Ward's 2013 book Who 's Bigger Where 
Historical Figures ReaUy_ Rank . Hart and Skiena & Ward 
both put two religious figures in the top three (Hart has 
Mohammed first, Jesus third; Skiena & Ward the converse), 
but second place in Hart's ranking goes to a scientist (Isaac 
Newton) while Skiena & Ward place a soldier (Napoleon) 
second. And in fact Hart tends to favor people of ideas and 
invention (Albert Einstein , Cai Fun , Buddha , Paul of Tarsus , 
Johannes Gutenberg , and Confucius join Newton in his top 
ten) while Skiena & Ward tend somewhat more toward 
people who command armies (George Washington , Adolf 
Hitler , Abraham Fincoln , and Alexander the Great join 
Napoleon in their top ten, although they also rank Aristotle 
and Shakespeare highly). 151 ^ 

The related studies of mathematical and statistical ranking of 
historical figures of humanity based on Wikipedia database in 
various language editions are described at the article Top 100 
historical figures . 


Thursday, September 22, 2011 

The 100, Michael H Hart 

"The 100" is perhaps one of the greatest 
books on the analysis of history ever 
written. The author of the book Dr. 
Michael H. Hart is a man of amazing 
erudition in diverse fields and domains 
of study and research. He holds an A.B. 
from Cornell University, an L.L.B. from 
New York Law School, an MS is Physics 
from Adelphi University and a Ph.D. in 
astronomy from Princeton University. He 
has worked at the NASA Goddard Space 
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; 
the National Center for Atmospheric 
Research in Boulder, Colorado and Hales 
Observatories in Pasadena, California. 
He is currently a senior staff scientist 
with the Systems and Applies Sciences 
Corporation in Riverdale, Maryland and 
a member of American Astronomical 


Society and its Division of Planetary 
Science. Hart is coeditor of 
Extraterrestrials: Where Are They? and 
has written many technical articles for 
may major publications. He lives in 
Annandale, Virginia. 

In 1978, when Michael Hart’s 
controversial book The 100 was first 
published, critics objected that Hart had 
the nerve not only to select who he 
thought were the most influential people 
in history but also rank them according 
to their importance. 

Needless to say that the critics were 
wrong, thousands of copies of the book 
have sold. As Hart emphasizes in the 
book again and again that the yardstick 
for ranking the people in his book is their 
influence not their greatness, the people 
who swayed the destinies of millions of 
human beings, determined the rise and 
fall of civilizations and the course of 



With incisive biographies, Hart describes 
their careers and contributions. 
Explaining his rating, he presents a new 
perspective on history, gathering together 
the vital facts about the world’s greatest 
religious, spiritual and political leaders, 
inventors, writers, philosophers, 
explorers, artists and innovators. 

Hart’s selection may surprise some and 
questioned by others. Neither Jesus nor 
Marx, but Muhammad is designated as 
the most influential person in human 
history. The writer’s arguments may 
challenge and perhaps convince readers, 
but whether or not they agree with him, 
his manner of writing is both informative 
and entertaining. 

click here to purchase the book on 


In this blog I have linked each historical 
figure ranked in the book to wikipedia. 
But to get the complete understanding 
and know the critical reasons for ranking 
certain people above or below others, it 
is highly recommended to go through the 


Michael Hart Gives a very broad view 
and clear understanding of human 
history. He also provides us with an in 
depth analysis of these people’s impact 
on humanity with very powerful 
arguments in support of his claims. 



Powered by Wikipedia 

1. Muhammad 

2. Issac Newton 

3. Jesus Christ 



5. Confucius 

6. St Paul 


8. Johann Gutenberg 


9. Christopher Columbus 

10. Albert Einstein 


1 1 . Louis Pasteur 

12. Galileo Galilei 


13. Aristotle 


15. Moses 

16. Charles Darwin 



19. Nicolaus Copernicus 

20. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier 


2 1 . Constantine the Great 

22. James Watt 


23. Michael Faraday 

24. James Clerk Maxwell 


25. Martin Luther 


27. Karl Marx 

28. Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright 



30. Adam Smith 

3 1 . WilliamShakespeare 


32. John Dalton 

33. Alexander the Great 


34. Napoleon Bonaparte 

35. Thomas Edison 


36. Antony van Leeuwenhoek 

37. William T.G. Morton 


39. Adolf Hitler 


40. Plato 

4 1 . Oliver Cromwell 


42. Alexander Graham Bell 

43. Alexander Fleming 


44. John Locke 


46. Werner Heisenberg 

47. Louis Daguerre 


48. Simon Bolivar 

49. Rene Descartes 


5 1 . Pope Urban II 


52. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab 

53. Asoka 

54. St Augustine 


55. William Harvey 

56. Ernest Rutherford 



59. Max Plank 

60. Joseph Lister 


61. Nikolaus August Otto 

62. Francisco Pizarro 


63. Hernando Cortes 

64. Thomas Jefferson 


65. Queen Isabella I 

66. Joseph Stalin 


67. Julius Caesar 

68. William the Conqueror 


69. Sigmund Freud 

70. Edward Jenner 


7 1 . William Conrad Rontgen 

72. Johann Sebastian Bach 


73. Lao Tzu 


75. Johannes Kepler 

76. Enrico Fermi 


77. Leonhard Euler 

78. Jean-Jacques Rousseau 


79. Niccolo Machiavelli 

80. Thomas Malthus 


8 1 . John F. Kennedy 


83. Mani 


85. Sui Wen Ti 

86. Vasco da Gama 


87. Cvrus the Great 

88. Peter the Great 


90. Francis Bacon 


9 1 . Henry Ford 

92. Mencius 


93. Zoroaster 

94. Queen Elizabeth I 


95. Mikhail Gorbachev 

96. Menes 


97. Charlemagne 

98. Homer 


99. Justinian I 

100. Mahavira